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In Frontiers in psychiatry

Morphological changes in the brain over the lifespan have been successfully described by using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in conjunction with machine learning (ML) algorithms. International challenges and scientific initiatives to share open access imaging datasets also contributed significantly to the advance in brain structure characterization and brain age prediction methods. In this work, we present the results of the predictive model based on deep neural networks (DNN) proposed during the Predictive Analytic Competition 2019 for brain age prediction of 2638 healthy individuals. We used FreeSurfer software to extract some morphological descriptors from the raw MRI scans of the subjects collected from 17 sites. We compared the proposed DNN architecture with other ML algorithms commonly used in the literature (RF, SVR, Lasso). Our results highlight that the DNN models achieved the best performance with MAE = 4.6 on the hold-out test, outperforming the other ML strategies. We also propose a complete ML framework to perform a robust statistical evaluation of feature importance for the clinical interpretability of the results.

Lombardi Angela, Monaco Alfonso, Donvito Giacinto, Amoroso Nicola, Bellotti Roberto, Tangaro Sabina

2020

FreeSurfer, MRI, aging biomarker, brain aging, deep neural networks, machine learning, morphological features